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Best Comics of 2019 So Far

Posted 3 months ago by Franco V

Comics are for everybody. No matter who you are there's a comic for you! And odds are you can find that comic at the Library. Whether it be on our shelves, in digital collections like hoopla or through our partner libraries on SearchOhio or OhioLink, there's bound to be something you'll find interesting.

Since we're at the midway point of 2019, now is a great time to look back at some of the best comics that have been published over the past six months.

Best Comics and Graphic Novels from the First Half of 2019

A Fire Story by Brian Fies

A Fire Story by Brian Fies

A Fire Story recounts the personal experience of writer and illustrator Brian Fies as he and his wife flee their California home due to an October 2017 wildfire. Waking up in the middle of the night to an orange glow outside their window, they quickly gather belongings with the assumption they’ll return home within a day, but in just a few hours most of their neighborhood succumbs to the blaze. This is an expertly told story of loss, grief and recovery after a random tragedy and is an important graphic novel that provides a window into an uncertain era of wildfires in the American West.

Superman Vol. 1: The Unity Saga: Phantom Earth; written by Brian Michael Bendis, art by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Oclair Albert

Superman Vol. 1: The Unity Saga: Phantom Earth

Comics veteran Brian Michael Bendis' move to DC is off to a great start with his double feature work on Action Comics and Big Blue's titular book. In this volume the Boy Scout has been separated from his wife Lois and son Jon and finds that the entire Earth has been transported into the Phantom Zone. On top of all this Supes must battle the alien Rogol Zaar, who claims to be responsible for destroying Krypton. All of it makes for the perfect summer comic blockbuster and fun sci-fi romp full of incredible outer space battles.

Hobo Mom by Charles Forsman and Max de Radiguès

Hobo Mom

Hobo Mom is a short graphic novel, easily read in one sitting and well worth the effort to do so. I read this on a park bench during my lunch break, and being outside might be the perfect setting to read a comic about a woman who lives her life on the rails.

Natasha is the "hobo mom," moving from town to town in fits of restlessness. Suddenly she decides to insert herself back into the life of her daughter, though she just as quickly flits back out of it.

This comic might feel shallow in terms of its length, but there are strange depths in its clean lines and brief segments of dialogue. You'll feel the pull of a carefree life while also being outraged at the pain such a life can bring to a family.

Off Season by James Sturm

Off Season by James Sturm

Almost nobody wants to rehash the 2016 presidential election, but James Sturm takes the topic on by making the political personal.

Mark, a blue collar builder, and his wife Lisa are both Bernie Sanders supporters. But when Bernie loses the nomination to Hillary Clinton, Mark can't bring himself to vote for Clinton or Trump, while Lisa goes all in and volunteers for Hillary. Their marriage suffers for it, they go through a divorce and what's left is the sparsely plotted Off Season.

But this book isn't just about election politics. It tackles issues of masculinity, the struggle of trying to make a living and all the other things that make adulthood so unnerving.

New Kid by Jerry Craft

New Kid by Jerry Craft

Jerry Craft's New Kid is a near perfect middle grade graphic novel that practically any person age 8-12 will love, especially if they've been the "new kid" in school.

The book follows Jordan, who starts his first year at a suburban private school, having previously attended school in New York City. Needless to say, Jordan doesn't quite fit in among the prep school crowd with their designer clothes, newest video games and luxury cars.

There are a few cultural references that kids might not understand, like chapter titles that channel Fight Club and Mad Men, but there are important lessons that will hit home with young people, such as those dealing with race, bullying and friendship.

Bloom by Kevin Panetta and Savanna Ganucheau

Bloom

Stop me if you've heard this story before: boy turns 18 and wants to leave the doldrums of his hometown so he can escape working the family business.

Yes, this is the set-up of almost any coming of age story, but Bloom somehow makes what is old new and fresh. Ari works in his family's bakery, but wants to move to the city with his friends to start a band. Ari also isn't sure if this is what he wants. Enter Hector, a trained baker who starts working for Ari's family with the intent to be Ari's replacement. Instead, Hector and Ari find themselves in a burgeoning relationship.

Cannabis: The Illegalization of Weed in America by Box Brown

Cannabis by Box Brown

Box Brown (Tetris, Andre the Giant) is the comics master of deep explorations into non-fiction topics, and he delivers again with Cannabis. Brown shows us how marijuana became illegal in the United States through racism, junk science and the self-preservation of Henry J. Anslinger, the first commissioner of the United States Treasury's Bureau of Narcotics. You'll also learn about things like the Shaffer Commission, which was created by President Nixon to investigate marijuana and drug abuse and issued a report that called for the decriminalization of marijuana possession in the 1970s.

Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe

Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe

Maia Kobabe's graphic memoir about eir ongoing journey with finding eir gender identity is a must read (Kobabe uses the gender neutral Spivak pronouns e/em/eir). Kobabe's story will speak to anybody - those who have questioned their gender identity, cisgender folks who want to learn and understand more and any trans, non-binary or persons of other genders who might be looking for guidance by way of another's personal experience.

Aside from the important gender story Kobabe has to share, eir art is a joy to behold. Well-crafted and superbly drawn, Kobabe's impressive comics background shines throughout.

Blossoms in Autumn by Zidrou and Aimée de Jongh

Blossoms in Autumn

Blossoms in Autumn is an endearing and heartfelt story about two older folks who find friendship and love in later life. It's a romantic comedy flick in the form of sequential art and if you're looking for a feel good story, this is it.

Does this book have problems? Sure. A near impossible feat of biology occurs toward the end of the book and we're really hit over the head with the fact that one of the main characters is named Ulysses. But despite these flaws, there's just something cozy nestled at this book's core that make those flaws worth overlooking.

Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos by Lucy Knisely

Kid Gloves by Lucy Knisely

Lucy Knisely (Relish, French Milk) delivers a must-read comic about childbirth that is both personal and universal. Exploring topics of women's health, the history of reproductive medicine and her own pregnancy experience, this is an intimate look at motherhood and the pressures women face when it comes to pregnancy.

Knisely is never one to shy away from difficult topics - like her doctor dismissing signs that she had preeclampisa - and she deftly dispels common pregnancy superstitions with humor and resolve.

Clyde Fans by Seth

Clyde Fans by Seth

Canadian cartoonist Seth gives readers a masterwork with Clyde Fans, which deserves a place among other gems of sequential art like Chris Ware's Jimmy Corrigan, Black Hole by Charles Burns and Daniel Clowes' Ghost World.

Clyde Fans (both the book and its namesake, a once real Toronto business that has been re-purposed for fictional use) feels like it's from another era. The business is of a time when traveling salesmen hit the road and a mom and pop oscillating fan company was a legitimate way to make a living.

The book itself is something to behold. Seth's clean lines, use of blue and grey shading, jumps in time and characters that effectively address the reader directly make this a whirlwind comics experience. Brothers Abe and Clyde, heirs to the family fan business, are so far apart in terms of demeanor and their family strife plays out not through conflict but in solitary moments that linger in the book's mood and tone, ultimately speaking to how life can sometimes be unfulfilling.

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